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Delingpole: Better to Ban the FDA than E-Cigarettes

An attendant demonstrates Japan Tobacco Inc.'s Ploom Tech smokeless tobacco device for a photograph during a media preview at the company's Ploom Shop Ginza in Tokyo, Japan, on Wednesday, June 28, 2017. By next week, smokeless devices by Japan Tobacco, British American Tobacco Plc and Philip Morris International Inc. will …
Kiyoshi Ota/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is threatening to pull e-cigarettes like Juul off the market because they’re proving too popular with the kids.

Personally I think the kids would be a lot, lot safer if they simply abolished the FDA.

Where does it think the kids are going to get their nicotine fix if the significantly safer, healthier, less carcinogenic alternative to real cigarettes is suddenly pulled off the shelves?

According to Zero Hedge:

Citing FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, Bloomberg notes that the FDA will soon release data that show a “substantial increase” in youth vaping this year compared with 2017.

“I have grown increasingly concerned around what we see as rising youth use in these products, and I’m disappointed in the actions the companies have taken to try to address this,” Gottlieb told Bloomberg in an interview.

The FDA told five major e-cigarette manufacturers Wednesday to come up with ways to address youth use in 60 days or the agency could require them to stop selling flavored products that appeal to children. The products being targeted are: Juul, Altria Group Inc.’s MarkTen, Fontem Ventures BV’s blu, British American Tobacco Plc’s Vuse and Logic.

Additionally, to gain clearance to return to the market, the tobacco companies would have to prove that the benefits to adults who use e-cigarettes to stop smoking outweigh the risks associated with youth vaping, Bloomberg adds.

“I certainly am in possession of evidence that warrants that,” Gottlieb said, adding that the problem has reached “epidemic proportion” although he declined to disclose the evidence.

That said, a quick look at the numbers confirms as much. According to data from Wells Fargo and Agora Financial, vaping sales reached $10 billion worldwide, a far cry from the mere $20 million in 2008. It is safe to assume that a substantial amount of sales is to young consumers.

Yes. And good for the vape manufacturers! They’ve done exactly what’s supposed to happen in free markets: found a gap and exploited it. And in this particular case, as so often, the profit motive happens to align with the public good. Until e-cigarettes came along, it was really quite difficult to coax smokers to give up and to persuade young people that smoking wasn’t a cool thing to take up. Now e-cigarettes offer a viable alternative.

My Boy was travelling in the U.S. recently and hung out on a lot of campus: everyone was smoking Juuls, he said. They’ve become a thing. Now that maybe a bad thing relative to no smoking at all, but it’s a definite improvement on burning tobacco.

If you’re still in any doubt – or indeed if you agree with me – you should definitely check out my podcast this week with Christopher Snowden.

Snowden is head of Lifestyle Economics at the free market think tank, the Institute of Economic Affairs. We talk at some length about ban-crazy control freaks – bansturbators, as they’re known – in the public health industry, at institutions like the FDA.

Bansturbators like Scott Gottlieb never want to ban stuff because they are finger-wagging authoritarians. No, sir! They want to ban stuff because they’re know what is in society’s interest.

Except, of course, they don’t. Society – as Margaret Thatcher was once destroyed by the left for pointing out – is made up of individuals, each with their own specific wants and needs. There’s not some one-size-fits-all-policy where everyone benefits.

Not even when its as something as seemingly obvious as stopping kids getting access to a high-nicotine delivery system.

Sure Juuls are addictive.

But what about all the cigarette smoking they are displacing?

What about all the people they’re saving from lung and heart disease?

What about the hundreds of thousands of people they keep happy by pleasantly satisfying their oral fixation at parties, in bars, etc?

What about the investors and workers in these companies, now threatened with expropriation or job loss by the actions of the authoritarian state?

Gottlieb may be a Trump appointment. But this authoritarian, counterproductive policy he is threatening to introduce will NOT Make America Great Again. In fact, it’s more worthy of Hillary and Bernie…

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